Monday, July 6, 2015

RSW: Writing and Revising



In case you’ve just tuned in, I’m taking part in Ready, Set, Write. It’s a summer writing intensive hosted by Alison Miller, Katy Upperman, Erin FunkJaime Morrow, and Elodie Nowodazkij that encourages goal-setting and provides accountability. Basically it’s a bunch of writers cheering each other on to meet their writing or revising goals. There’s whip-cracking, too, for slackers like me.

And now, my update:

1. HOW I DID ON LAST WEEK’S GOALS
Considering I didn’t have any goals last week, I’d say I did a bang-up job. I revised at least five times last week, which was my goal from two weeks ago. This week, that was a lot of writing new scenes and doing crucial research.

2. MY GOALS FOR THIS WEEK
  • Work on revisions at least five times this week
  • Revise at least six chapters

3. A FAVORITE LINE FROM MY STORY OR ONE WORD/PHRASE THAT SUMS UP WHAT I WROTE/REVISED
Since I did some writing this week, I have stuff to share. It’s unedited, so read at your own risk.
“One day, maybe you’ll tell me about it.” 
“You might not believe me.” 
I rest my head on his shoulder. “You can’t imagine the impossible things I’m willing to believe. Like right now, I believe there’s more to us than on the island.” 
“Was that ever even a question?” He’s looking at me like he’s discovered a treasure, like I was buried for years before he dug me up. He dips down and kisses me so deeply it sinks the sun into the ocean and draws the moon up into the sky.
4. THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE I FACED THIS WEEK
Back when I was writing this, I sped through a plot element I knew I’d need to come back to during revisions. I was being all cutesy and writerly, leaving myself a note in the MS that said something to the effect of “No, YOU fix this giant plot hole.”

And, I mean, come on, Past Tracey. Way to pass off all the work. So this week I spent a crazy amount of time trying to rework an element of the plot that makes no sense if you account for people acting like rational human beings. Which they tend to do.

5. SOMETHING I LOVE ABOUT MY WIP
The story is primarily told from the POV of Ruby, a teen girl on a treasure hunt. But some chapters are also told from the POV of Cooper, a boy with no memory of his past who recently woke up on the mysterious island. I’ve never written from a boy’s point of view before, and it was insanely fun. One of my favorite things about the story is the relationship between Cooper and a man named Bishop:
Bishop rolls his eyes, which is strange for a guy so old. “The way you act. You have a Bart-ness to you.” 
“What the hell’s that even mean?” 
“Don’t curse,” he says. “And it means that I had a really nice dog named Bart and you remind me of him.” 
“I’d really rather not be named after a dog.” 
“He was a good dog.” 
“How’d you like it if I called you Rover instead of Bishop?” 
“You have a dog named Rover?” 
I slump against the store window. “Obviously I don’t know that. I don’t know anything. But I could.” 
“Oh, do whatever you want. It’s your fake name.”

How are you doing with your writing goals?



Monday, June 22, 2015

Ready. Set. Write: One Step at a Time



In case you’ve just tuned in, I’m taking part in Ready, Set, Write. It’s a summer writing intensive hosted by Alison MillerKaty UppermanErin Funk, and Jaime Morrow that encourages goal-setting and provides accountability. Basically it’s a bunch of writers cheering each other on to meet their writing or revising goals. There’s whip-cracking, too, for slackers like me.

And now, my update:

1. HOW I DID ON LAST WEEK’S GOALS
My goal last week was to work on revisions at least five times a week and complete a list of needed revisions. Done and done. I now have a handy list of changes to make, divided by type of revision.

Of course that was the easy part…

2. MY GOALS FOR THIS WEEK
Well, bother. Now that I’ve met last week’s goals, I’m at the hard part: putting all that brainstorming to use. This week, I’d like to:

  • Work on revisions at least five times per week
  • Revise major plot issues

3. A FAVORITE LINE FROM MY STORY OR ONE WORD/PHRASE THAT SUMS UP WHAT I WROTE/REVISED
No line this week since I didn’t make any changes to the text. I did do a lot of brainstorming, especially to turn one of my flat side characters three dimensional. The most appropriate word for that process? Long. Long, long, LONG.

4. THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE I FACED THIS WEEK
You’d probably get bored if I listed fear here every week, so let’s pick something different. I’ll go with belief. I have a (very long) list of changes to make to my WIP, and this week I struggled with the belief that I can get the story from where it is to where it needs to be.

I’m sticking with last week’s mantra: One step at a time. So I have about eleventy billion things to revise. That’s okay. I’ll start with No. 1 and not worry about the rest until I hit No. 2.

At least, that’s the plan.

5. SOMETHING I LOVE ABOUT MY WIP
For all the whining and moaning I’ve been doing about my WIP, I do love it. Like, if we were in a YA novel, I’d hate my WIP so much but at the same time be strangely attracted to its charm.

Well, that wasn’t creepy at all.

What I love most at this point is the dialog. The characters are either inconsistent or flat or otherwise a mess, the setting needs beefing up, and subplots vanish somewhere between the beginning and the end, but the dialog works. That’s no surprise—it’s the easiest for me to write—but it’s nice to see at least something was working in this draft.

How are you doing with your writing goals?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Ready, Set, Write: On Goals and Having Them Finally




Here’s something you might not know: When you burn alive for a living, summer isn’t actually the greatest season of all. On the plus side, there’s Ready, Set, Write, hosted by Alison MillerKaty UppermanErin Funk, and Jaime Morrow. I’ve been participating in this summer writing intensive for years, and each year it’s responsible for a huge chunk of the words I write.

I missed last week’s goals post, but because I’m feeling inventive I’m going to combine it with this week’s update. So, here’s how I’m doing:

1. HOW I DID ON LAST WEEK’S GOALS
This is assuming I had goals last week. Which I didn’t. Unless you count the goal of finishing the entire season of Sense8. In that case, nailed it.

Because that’s lame, I’m going to set an overall RSW goal and pretend it isn’t completely unrealistic.
  • Revise BLACKBIRD ISLAND
  • Send revised draft to beta readers

2. MY GOAL(S) FOR THIS WEEK
  • Work on revisions at least five times per week
  • Complete list of needed revisions
3. A FAVOURITE LINE FROM MY STORY OR ONE WORD/PHRASE THAT SUMS UP WHAT I WROTE/REVISED
Last week, I finished the draft of BLACKBIRD ISLAND—with a second storyline for the same low, low price! Also, with an in-the-dark kiss. I should post a part of that here, right? Right. Everyone loves kissing.
Then I can’t take it anymore, the not kissing. I want my lips on his, but I get his eye instead, which is exactly as sexy as it sounds. 
4. THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE I FACED THIS WEEK
Fear. If you wrote a song about my writing and revising, it’d go something like this:
Fear, fearFearful fear 
And it would suck. But at least it’d be accurate. I have a lot of revising to do. I mean, an all-caps A LOT. I also have such a clear vision for what I want this story to be, how it should feel. I just hope I can get it there.

5. SOMETHING I LOVE ABOUT MY WiP 
That it’s done. That sounds like a cop out, but this is my blog and I can write cop outs all day long.

This was a hard one for me to write. It was hard to get past my inner editor, which means I drafted it much more slowly than anything else I’ve written. But it’s done and I do like it—major flaws and all. And though I’m afraid of not being able to turn this into the book in my mind, I’m thankful I’m at the revising stage because I know where it needs to go.

And now I’ll be off, tattooing my new mantra to my hands, where I can see it while typing: One step at a time.

Monday, May 11, 2015

4 Great Reads


I always feel a bit off after disliking a book everyone else loves. Like we’re a show choir and everyone’s belting out some big, epic song—maybe from Wicked because those songs are always big and epic and meaningful on Glee—and I’m over here singing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and not even remembering all of the words.

So I had this off-ness at the start of April and I had a feeling I was about to enter a massive book slump. But miracle of all miracles, the exact opposite happened.

Not that I suddenly gained musical talent and knew the words to Wicked songs but that I loved pretty much every single book I read.

Here are the books you should be buying this month:


This is probably the most adorable book I’ll read all year. It’s smart. It’s funny. It’s 320 pages of Oreo-sweet scenes with depth and mystery.


It’s so rare that I read a book with such a strong friendship between girls. I wanted to insert myself into this young America—forget the dangers of the wild West—just to be part of the magic that was Samantha and Annemae. This book is Sam and Andy. It’s a captivating story (with a diverse cast!) of love and hope, family and friendship. Above all, the kind of friendship that turns strangers into family.


Wonderful. Just wonderful. It’s somehow both slow building and fast paced, the characters both quiet and gentle and as vicious as beasts. If you don’t fall in love with Feyre and Tamlin, you may not have a heart.


I feel a little like face-blind Finn trying to describe this book. It’s lovely when you look at all of its parts neatly arranged—this plot here, those characters there, the setting just like that—but absolutely beautiful when you stop looking and start feeling. It’s magical and haunting and powerful. This may just be the best book I’ll read this year. 



What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Catching Up



I used to love What’s Up Wednesday posts because they told me exactly what to write, allowing me to maintain my status as a mindless drone. Which is all I ever want in life.

Which is why I’m joining Katy Upperman for her Tuesday Currently post. Here’s how it goes:

It’s no secret I’m a sucker for a great book cover design, and I’m loving the cover art for these two adult novels (they’re part of a larger list of books over at The Book Smugglers). 


I’m crazy about the way the illustrated birds overlap the title and author’s name. The design is so appropriate considering the title.


And then there’s Written In Blood which is chilling in its simplicity. The streaks of color that reveal the girl’s face beneath remind me a bit of water drips on a foggy mirror. Water drips that maybe reveal something scary behind you.

If every book I bought was as good as the ones I read in April I wouldn’t have to worry about broken e-readers. Those things do not take being thrown across the room well. Anyhow, I loved the books I read last month so much that I’m going to write all about them in a separate post, complete with ❤️ ❤️ and !!! and pronouncements that you must read them immediately.

Right now, though, I’m getting ready to read Jessi Kirby’s Things We Know by Heart. If it’s anything like her previous books, I’ll be sad crying and happy crying and avoiding the mirror until I hit The End. (I’m not one of those pretty-cry people. My face turns into something from an episode of CSI.)

I’m slowly making my way through Supernatural—I’m on season nine and seeing the end. That sort of feels like an accomplishment, but mostly it feels like I’ll soon have commercials and weekly waits crashing my friendship with the Winchesters. Not cool, man.

I’ve also really been loving iZombie, which has been cracking me up with the way the main character adopts the personalities of the people whose brains she eats. Add bonus points for a loveable sidekick and personality-changing former-Arthur boyfriend and I’m hooked.

If I tried to write to music with lyrics my novel would read something like this:
“What’d she say?” I asked.
 “Nice to meet you, where you been? I could show you incredible things. Magic, madness, heaven, sin. Saw you there and I thought, ‘Oh my God, look at that face. You look like my next mistake.’ Love’s a game. Wanna play?”
Not that I listen to Taylor Swift ALL THE TIME. Only most of the time.

Anyhow, I’m an instrumental-only kind of girl when putting words on paper, but I like to listen to other sorts of music while staring into space (though the literary term for that is brainstorming.)

And this songs is basically my book in broken into beats and measures and other musical terms someone as tone deaf as me wouldn’t understand. Here’s how my book goes:



Fear. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve been struggling with my current WIP, and that has nothing to do with how much I love it.  (Because I really, really love it. Like, risk-of-death-by-hug love it.) It has everything to do with fear and doubt and worries that it’s not original enough, not well-written enough—never mind the fact that it’s not actually written yet—not exciting enough, not surprising, not smart, not…oh, you get it. I recently went back to Susan Dennard’s posts on facing fear, and reading how a published author handles this is super helpful. If you’re blocked by fear, it’s worth a read. Her post on taking writing-related fears and putting them in their place is especially helpful.

Getting my hands on one of the eleventy billion books that released today. I need a pause button to hold time until I’ve had a chance to read some of these:



 
Nothing feels like summer quite like watching a cartoon wiener dance for a circus ringmaster during a double feature at the drive-in. I’m lucky enough to live close to a few—something I didn’t realize was so rare until I moved to Philly and then Northern Virginia, neither of which are near working drive-in theaters. The theater’s opening seems to usher in summer, and I don’t care that the movie selection is smaller than at the cinema. Will a 1950s announcer tell you that ladies can arrive in casual housedresses at Showcase Cinemas? Will he tell you to have a gay old time? I don’t think so.


What are you currently up to?